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Bricked my Jolla phone, could it be fixed?

asked 2019-01-21 00:16:30 +0300

nogreatnamesleft gravatar image

Few days ago I've tried to upgrade to 3.0.1, and looks like my phone is dead.

I've used Jolla from 2014, it worked well although battery wasn't good, but whatever. In past I've already had some problems with updates, like having that known btrfs space problem, or stucking in graphical update forever etc, but everything got fixed successfully. Now, with previous knowledge in mind, I've cleaned some space (5 Gb free, btrfs balance) and used shell (version --dup). Everything was good, until at 80% of upgrade system reported that there is no space left. I've checked btrfs fi show but it displayed that there is free space, so I've decided to retry. Some packages were installed, then that error happened again.

Then I've did another btrfs balance and it finished successfully, but btrfs fi show still displayed old numbers (something like 11 Gb used and 3 free). Still didn't help, another update run failed. Ok, if system wants space, I'll delete something. Found some files that I don't care about, tried to delete... and error again, OS couldn't delete files because there are no space (!). Using echo > file didn't help either. Btrfs balance suddenly started complain about space too.

So, after some googling I've decided to add loop device to give system some space (from that thread from TJC, losetup + btrfs device add). Added 1 Gb loop device, did balance, everything went good, now tried to remove that device - and remove failed. I've started to worry, because thread says that rebooting with that device bricks phone. But, after few tries and some random manipulation, device was removed successfully, disappeared from btrfs fi etc.

I've decided to continue the upgrade, but suddenly almost every command failed with shared library error. Pkcon/zypper couldn't be started, but rsync worked, so I've backed up /home/ to SD card for safety reasons, moved some files and decided to reboot. I didn't see any other way to continue, although it was deep night so maybe I did something wrong. And then phone didn't start. Recovery doesn't boot either. PC sees phone as Qualcomm modem, so it isn't hardware failure, it is just bricked.

Could anyone tell me what I can do now? Or phone is dead completely?

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answered 2019-01-22 14:18:00 +0300

DrYak gravatar image

Regarding the BTRFS :

I would advise having an extra partition on the SD card instead of a loopback on the data partition.

  • This way you avoid the extra risk of the main FAT / EXTn partition on the card getting corrupted.
  • And if you blkdiscard wipe it after use that's more free blocks in the pool for wear levelling.

I've had such "usage doesn't decrease, even after rebalanceing" situation on a different platform (my Raspberry Pi working as a micro home server) in case of extremely fragmented files (very large torrented files that got a ginormous amount of random writes).

  • If that's the case on your Jolla, it would have been better to btrfs fi defrag -v -r any large fragmented file (maybe add something like -t256M for large file to cut into fewer large extents)
  • The most likely culprit is .local/share/system/privileged/Contacts/qtcontacts-sqlite/contacts.db acting up (due to the Google Account sync filling it with junk). You can safely delete that SQLite database and resync anew from Google (you'll get a smaller file again). stop and start contactsd.service around your deleteing to have it let go the files.

Regarding your crash :

Saving your home as soon as the symptom appeared is an excellent reflex.

During version --dup missing shared libraries should not be happening (seems that this software takes special care not to have the system in an inconsistent state, that's why it's preferred to zypper dup, etc.), the message you got.

What I think is that your eMMC storage inside the Jolla eventually died :

  • the rebalancing + large system update was probably the last straw of "flash writing/erasing" that broke the proverbial camel's back of your ageing eMMC,
  • the missing shared libraries were simply the eMMC flash dying: if a checksum fails the BTRFS driver refuses access to the file (you need btrfs restore to fetch corrupted files - that even works to extract files from a partition so corrupted that it doesn't even mount. When you can't rsync,use that instead of trying to fsck, btw).
  • eventually the eMMC gave up. The partition table is busted, or the corresponding /dev/mmcblk0p{num} that holds the kernel and the recovery kernel are dead.
  • upon boot, as explained in the other sources, the Qualcom chipset's bootloader, isn't able to find any kernel to boot into (not even the recovery one) and goes into a special recover mode (and appears as a modem on the bus).
  • In theory, there are proprietary non-free tools from Qualcom that could access the chipset and be used to flash a new firmware.
  • But in practice I think the eMMC is dead anyway and there's nothing that could be flashed by the tools.

Short of extremely advanced and costly repairs (soldering a new eMMC storage on the motherboard using a high-end reflow station, then reformat and reflash proper firmware on it), I think the Jolla is definitely bricked.

Another alternative explanation is that something went wrong (subtly corrupted BTRFS partition, that after balancing, lead to a subtly corrupted system, hence the shared libraries errors, and that system somehow failed to flash the new kernel into the dedicated partitions but instead borked the partition table of the eMMC. In which case the soldering of new eMMC isn't required, only the expensive qualcomm reformatting/reflashing proprietary tools. But I find this unlikely to happen without tons of error messages everywhere).

TL;DR: the flash storage of the Jolla died of old age (I suspect).

Fetching a second hand Jolla 1 mother board or migrating to a Sony Xperia X or XA2 device is probably your only hope.

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Thank you for detailed answer. I guess you are right, it also looks like hw storage issue, not specifically a btrfs one. Shared library error also did raise suspicion for me, I've had partially updated system in the past but never expected this (although had something like that on other computers with broken libc and similar things).

Yes, there are plenty of small files found on my backed up home, mostly in ~/.cache and ~/.qmf. Choosing btrfs as main FS on that device was definitely a Jolla's wrong choice, it is good that they changed it on newer devices.

Home backup also saved my time, because I couldn't find an easy way to restore SMS/calls to my new phone from "normal" tar backup (had relatively recent one), they are stored in some specific format. But in /home/ they are stored in easily readable sqlite db and some scripting did the trick. I've bought very cheap android device, and now waiting for full SFOS release for XA2, maybe then I'll go back.

nogreatnamesleft ( 2019-01-23 12:19:03 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-01-21 10:15:14 +0300

Fellfrosch gravatar image

Try recovery mode and reset to factory settings: https://jolla.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/204709607-Miten-käytän-Recovery-Modea-

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OP says - Recovery doesn't boot either. So, this doesn't help.

addydon ( 2019-01-21 13:19:45 +0300 )edit

Yes, recovery doesn't work. I've tried multiple times, even pressing different combinations of volume/power buttons, with or without battery - phone is silent, nothing happens.

nogreatnamesleft ( 2019-01-21 14:43:46 +0300 )edit

I had the same symptoms as my JP1 died. So, consider the problems of BTRFS having nothing to do with the cause, but were symptoms of a dying device...

A.Maretzek ( 2019-01-21 15:45:00 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-01-21 23:21:55 +0300

nas gravatar image

@nogreatnamesleft I believe there is nothing you can do. Check the comments on the following post which seems to explain pretty well what could have gone wrong with your device:


Also, about btrfs, you can find my experience from that here:


P.S. From my experience of Jolla 1 phone, I thought Sailfish was an operating system like some early linux distros, which needed reboot at least every 2 - 3 days, several things were stuck etc. Having XperiaX running SailfishX I discovered the great work Jolla guys have done. Yesterday, after 127 days uptime, I rebooted my phone because of sim removal ;) (it is time to upgrade to Sailfish 3 too). So you are lucky that you got your backups, I wish you to continue on Sailfish using a sony device (advice based only from my own experience) and setup fast the restoration your phone's data. If by any chance you restore your device, please PLEASE let us know how

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Yes, looks like there is nothing could be done in my situation.

My experience with Jolla phone is pretty positive. Yes, OS has many flaws and defects, apps are missing, Jolla as company suffers from bad communication and some kind of mismanagement, but overall I've loved that phone and OS. My phone had uptimes for month or two, and only noticeable problem in the end was battery, but it is ok for that old device, especially in cold climate. I already want to buy XA2 but waiting until android support is released, because there are few required apps for daily usage.

nogreatnamesleft ( 2019-01-23 11:35:19 +0300 )edit

answered 2019-01-22 09:32:33 +0300

Nieldk gravatar image

Afraid it looks like bootloaders (sbl partitions) got hatched. You could try by using fastboot and the images provided in this thread. http://talk.maemo.org/showthread.php?t=100528

Bot sure if it will work in your case, but worth a try

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Asked: 2019-01-21 00:16:30 +0300

Seen: 866 times

Last updated: Jan 22 '19